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Earlier reopening for ABQ proposed

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Two Albuquerque city councilors have introduced a resolution that asks Mayor Tim Keller to devise a plan to start reopening businesses deemed nonessential during the coronavirus pandemic.

Councilors Don Harris and Brook Bassan on Sunday introduced the resolution, which argues that Albuquerque is an economic hub for the state and should have different business closure protocol. It will be taken up by the City Council on May 4.

Harris said in a phone interview that he thinks the city should take a slightly different approach than the rest of the state.

He said he wasn’t sure if Albuquerque could create legislation that would go against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s emergency public health order, which has closed nonessential businesses until May 15. But he said he wanted the city’s legal department to look into it.

“We have to reach for a better balance,” Harris said. “The governor painted with too broad of a brush.”

Some businesses that Harris said could reopen with proper social distancing procedures include liquor stores, hair salons and golf courses. But he doesn’t think places such as malls should reopen right away.

Last week, Keller told a news conference that the he was confident that some businesses could start reopening in mid-May but didn’t give a specific plan.

“We announced last week that we’re already crafting data-driven plans so that businesses can re-open and stay open while the health care system maintains capacity,” Keller spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn said in an email Sunday.”We have invited council to join us in our collaborative efforts with the state, area hospitals, and the local business community.”

Harris said the closures could lead to other public health problems, including increased domestic violence and suicide.

The resolution also calls for the city to start allowing elective medical procedures so medical facilities can pull in more revenue.

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